The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde & the Evaluation Claim
The narratives entitled The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Hyde and The Picture Of Dorian Gray both reveal quite an interesting topic of discussion touching on the double conception which many would find hard to comprehend. “The double” is a gothic term that is defined as a “Psychic splitting of the self.” There is the concept of double in the above two novels is more clear in The Picture of Dorian Gray as it portrays the concept in its terror, ambiguity and suspense that the double convey. The main aim of this paper is to juxtapose the two novels through their main characters and build a resemblance claim by judging the main characters’ similarities and differences.
In both stories, the main characters demonstrates the same characteristics existing to a large extent in their alter egos where they live in fragmented selves of dual personality which eventually result in opposing selves. In the case of Dorian Gray, who is the personality behind the story titled The Picture of Dorian Gray, heis seen to divide into two metaphorically ensuing in quite a more telepathic splitting suffering from psychological and mental torment. Dr. Jekyll in The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Hyde is noted to split into his double bodily by him dissociating into two bringing out dual personality (Ruwe). Moreover, even though the two narratives express the theory basically called the double expansively, it’s the story involving Dorian Gray which furthers it in an effective manner exposing the suspense, dread, and vagueness caused by the perception of the double. For that reason, the character of Dr. Jekyll divided into his dual body-wise (that of Hyde) and his strong attachment to Hyde results in a more sever identity crisis making him feel happier and even younger (Stevenson, 63-64). However, for Dorian Gray, his identification also changes with his portrait later developing a hate and love relationship with his presence. Wilde (27) notes that Dorian acts weird towards his portrait and claims to love it, “as if he had recognized himself for the first time" (25) although he later says that he resents the portrait (187) saying “this monstrous soul-life" (192) about the painting. We are therefore not very sure of Dorian’s identification with his double as he seems to be in this love and hate relationship with it. This is unlike Hyde who is clear about his double (he has strong attachments to Hyde, his double).
On a critical evaluation of Robert L. Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we find that it is kind of a gothic science fiction novel; following a basic template. His character, Dr. Jekyll, turns into another being after consuming a draught undergoing a painful transformation. This is in contrast with Wilde’s novel where Dorian neither consumes the draught but is influenced by Lord Henry Wotton’s opinions to turn into his dark self. He changes to having the devil bargain (Wilde 159) from his simple beautiful nature (16) that he used to be. Dorian is seen to go through more emotional and mental distress than what Dr. Jekyll undergoes. These actions reflect on the extreme nature and characteristic of who Dorian is; slow but with severe traits for example when he causes Vane to commit suicide or when he results to murder of his friend. To expound on this point for instance, both characters seem to discover their malevolent personalities curiously, but Dr. Jekyll actually is noted to recognize more powerfully with his alter ego character. Dr. Jekyll is seen to be much engrossed to his alter ego Hyde in spite of it having an indentation of decay and deformity and this makes him more attached to his double as in it he fells happier, lighter, and younger in body resulting in a further rigorous personality crisis (123-124). This is what the author says,
To him, man was a being with myriad lives and myriad sensations, a complex multiform creature that bore within itself strange legacies of thought and passion, and whose very flesh was tainted with the monstrous maladies of the dead (Wilde 124).
Contrary, Dorian’s recognition with his image varies constantly, as he develops to adore and at the same time detest its presence. For instance, he becomes so much jealous of the interminable youthfulness of his alter ego after seeing it initially, thereby wishing he would eternally remain young whilst his image grows old. However, his mind-set towards his alter ego changes momentarily, thus making him declare that he actually loved it and he acknowledged it as part of his own self. This felling is seen to diminish towards the ending of the narrative as he even starts resenting it, it is plain reminiscence had blemished countless moments of happiness (The Picture of Dorian Gray), as a result revealing the hatred he had for his image. This brings to the point that Dorian’s recognition with his alter ego is incoherent and indistinct (Stevenson) unlike Dr. Jekyll who his was quite clear. Subsequently, even though the avid attachments of Dr. Jekyll to his alter ego, double-self, Hyde outcome in a more relentless personality predicament to him, the Dorian’s case of contradictory feelings to his image brings out compound splits in his sensations eventually enhancing the impression of the dual individuality (Wilde 131). Dorian is seen to later become more corrupt as a result of Lord Wotton’s influence. This is shown after his murder of S. Vane that he feels strangely calm (Wilde 134) instead of even having regrets of what he had done. This is a clear point where Dorian is evolving to his double, lacking feelings of remorse like he used to be earlier. This is in contrast to Dr. Jekyll who never changes to Hyde as he desires. This shows that Dorian’s character is more severe on the double than Dr. Jekyll. Stevenson notes of another murder, “I declare at least, before God, no man morally sane could have been guilty of that crime, upon so pitiful a provocation; and that I struck in no more reasonable spirit than that which a sick child may break a plaything” (Stevenson 49) when Carew was killed. Stevenson here is exploring the issue of morality to make a distinction of a criminal from the gentleman.
In the tale of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll is noted to have taken over his alter ego of Hyde which is really a monstrous and demonic manifestation of oneself and the author Stevenson actually brings him out as such directly from the beginning of the narrative. He is even compared to Satan through his derogatory coolness and in fact goes on to smack all those who observed him like he is deformed. This shows to what extend the author tries to reveal on the extremities and seriousness Dr. Jekyll took on his double self thus driving him into a death knell and devilish sneer. For him to acquire the double, he is seen to devour a draught which completely changed him to another strange being. The whole transformation happens instantly though it is actually termed as painful but nevertheless he undergoes it making him adapt en extremely different personality (Ruwe). On the other hand, in the novel of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian is depicted to not have taken any draught and in addition doesn’t instantly change into his double. Alternatively, his metaphoric alteration is seen to be sluggish, as he explores and enters his dark-self, and through this process he is largely seen to acquire influences from Lord Henry’s opinions. Still it’s the author’s irregular depiction of Dorian’s conversion which pragmatically shows the scruples of a guy trailing his self to wickedness, cruelty, brutality, and dishonesty (Adcock).
The complexity, ambiguity, and unconventionality of the duality concept portrayed by Wilde differ completely to that brought out by Stevenson. Wilde’s book portrays a stronger message of the double than Stevenson’s which is quite visible as well as clear hence making it straightforward and lacking any complexities associated with the double concept. This is expounded through critics concerning the author of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde which argue that he thrives in critiquing and mimicking the outstandingly rational structure of the whole study through its apparently unemotional tale tone. Thus the work does not stimulate similar sort of obscurity and mystification as The Picture of Dorian novel does. Therefore, the picture brought forth in terms of the duality concept is tougher in the Wilde’s narrative than it is in Stevenson’s. Clearly, the concept of double in the above two novels is clear in The Picture of Dorian Gray than The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Hyde as Wilde’s more effectively portrays the concept in its terror, ambiguity and suspense that the double convey than Stevenson.